Disclaimer- I don't own Naruto.

Sorry I haven't updated Here I Am, but my computer's broken. I wrote this because I just needed to write SOMETHING, you know? Anyway, I hope you like it.

The Leaf village is a place of shadows. The Sandiame would have said that it was the sun's shadows dappled onto the leaves, but no one left in the village was that poetic.

When you went to the village you saw a huge gate, open to enter. Civilians and shinobi alike pass through those gates every day, most not even noting the two guards that appear to be asleep at the front. Few ever talk to them, and fewer know their names. Many assume that they're lazy and don't actually do anything.

They're wrong. Neither of them are asleep and neither of them are more alert than when they're at they're post. They spend countless hours sitting their, marking in their minds every person that walks through the giant gate.

If you walk through the village, you see it as a lively, happy, place where men work and children play, mothers scurrying to find theur children and shopkeepers chat with their patrons. None of them see the ninja hiding in the corners of their streets, watching them impassively as they stand guard among the village's most precious asset, the next generation.

You might see teenagers joking with each other as they take a seat at a ramen shop, a blonde boy wincing as his female companion smacks him. You would never know the pain in their hearts from their past, the loss of their closest friend.

You might pass a flower shop where a tall, blond man and his daughter are laughing with customers as they wrap flowers. He's the village's best at mind control, but she's quicklly gaining the title herself. They hide their fear of the future with every flower.

You would almost certainly see the tall Hokage tower where a blond, busty, woman yawns and complains about her neverending job and tries to sneak a drink behind the back of her assistant. You wouldn't think that her brown eyes would narrow with seriousness when she was debriefing her ninja, the people she had grown accustomed to caring about and missing when they died. You would pay more attention to the squabbling genin than the quiet, solemn, jonin that passed through the halls in silence, showing up only to receive a scroll that might require them to give up yet another small piece of themselves in murder.

You might notice the bleak, unadorned buildings next to the tower. If you knew who dwelled in them you wouldn't recognize their names or even their group, the ANBU. The ANBU don their masks and sacrifice many things in order to keep the balance in their beloved village, staining their hands with the blood of others. Scary masks that hide unhappy faces that belong to people who do what they have to to help their home to survive.

You would flinch away from the large man strolling down the streets of Konoha, wondering what evil things that terrifying man had done. You might glimpse hideous scars under his bandanna and recoil in disgust. You would never know that he's spent months in the hell of a torture chamber to save his beloved land.

There's a good chance you would see the memorial stone, a much more obvious statement to the loss the village has suffered. And if you're there early enough, you'll see a man hiding his face behind a mask staring at the stone, perhaps whispering softly to his lost friends and family. Or maybe you'll see a woman with long, purple hair bending over and crying for her lost lover, the first casualty in a supposed time of peace. You wouldn't see them straighten up and regain their composure, straightening their clothes and walking off briskly. They only did this when they weren't watched.

The Leaf Village was a dark place, with most never even suspecting that it could be so. Most never even thought the ninja they passed on the street could be hiding so much pain, that the spiky-haired woman holding nearly twenty dumplings in her hands could have had many tramatizing experiences, that even the biggest and best would collapse in their beds, fisting their pillows and fighting tears.

The Hokage faces watch thier ninja suffer and fight, but they watch them when they're happy, because even the most broken ninja has found someone to care for, to love. It's this gift from the Hokage, the heart they put into their villages, that set the Leaf apart. When there are shadows there is also light.

What did you think? Tell me!